City officials expressed satisfaction with the progress being made in upgrading the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown, Soweto during an inspection tour on Thursday, 21 May.

Inside the Walter Sisulu Square of DedicationLandscaping and paving work under way at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication.The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) is overseeing a R20-million upgrade of the Square in preparation for the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, which was adopted by the Congress of the People in Kliptown on 26 June 1955.

“I am very happy with the progress made so far,” said City of Joburg Acting Executive Mayor Matshidiso Mfikoe. “We are encouraged by what we see. We are on the right track and just need to work faster.”

Mfikoe was accompanied by mayoral committee members Ruby Mathang (economic development), Rosslyn Greeff (development planning) and Christine Walters (transport), as well as a number of JDA officials.

JDA senior development manager Leonard Visagie brought the inspection group up to date on the latest developments at the Square, projecting that most of the work would be complete by 15 June.

Acting Executive Mayor Matshidiso MfikoeActing Executive Mayor Matshidiso Mfikoe leads the way across the bridge to the Kliptown Railway Station. Behind her is Union Avenue.The JDA is introducing soft landscaping to the Square, along with public seating, improved lighting, children’s play areas and other features aimed at counterbalancing the hard open space and making it a more attractive place of work and leisure.

Andrew Luke of GAPP Architects and Urban Designers said the idea was for the Square to accommodate all sectors of society. “There is a place and space for everyone in the Square, and the trick is to ensure that all groups of the environment complement each other rather than experience conflict.”

The tour then proceeded to the Kliptown Railway Station, where the City of Joburg’s assistant director of housing, Winsley Masinga, explained his department’s plans to revitalise the township neighbouring the station. Overcrowding in the township has resulted in the original houses being swamped by backyard shacks, making the area look like a shanty town.

Outside the Soweto Hotel on Freedom SquareMMCs Ruby Mathang, Christine Walters and Rosslyn Greeff with Acting Executive Mayor Matshidiso Mfikoe and two staff members outside the Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square.Acting Mayor Mfikoe emphasised the importance of creating linkages between Walter Sisulu Square and the township, and also raised the issue of illegal dumping, which has led to an accumulation of rubbish alongside the station.

From Kliptown Railway Station the delegation crossed over to the Union Avenue, the busy shop-lined thoroughfare adjacent to the Square, where the JDA has constructed new sidewalks and parking bays.

Transport MMC Christine Walters expressed concern over the large traffic volumes, and recommended that bollards be erected to prevent motorists from encroaching on pedestrian space by parking on the pavements.

Economic development MMC Ruby Mathang said it was important to find ways of accommodating informal traders in the Square.

The tour group made a final stop at Klipspruit Extension 6 and 11, where they were shown round the low-cost housing that is being built for more than 600 beneficiaries currently living in informal settlements around Kliptown.